December 2013

Online map shows mission needs to volunteers

December 6 2013 by Sara Shelton, North American Mission Board

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – When the Baptist Convention of New England (BCNE) came into possession of an old church building in Massachusetts, BCNE leaders knew exactly what they wanted to do with it.
 
"We were fortunate enough to have the building donated to us, and now we hope to turn it into a church planting center for training planters in the New England area," Tim Buehner, evangelism consultant and mission mobilization leader for the BCNE, said of the building in Worcester given to the convention earlier this year.
 
Yet the renovation is daunting and costly, requiring everything from demolition and construction crews to painting, carpentry and masonry skills. Simply put – they can't do it alone.
 
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NAMB photo

"We have a huge need and not enough resources," Buehner said, noting, "I'm sure we're not the only ones with this dilemma. There are extreme needs in areas like ours all over the nation where the majority of churches are small and pastored by bivocational leaders. In places like this, you can't do everything on your own; you need a little help."
 
That's why Buehner chose to post the convention's need on the North American Mission Board's Volunteer Opportunities map. Located online NAMB created the tool to connect churches and associations that have needs akin to New England's with volunteer mission teams who can help.
 
As pastors, church planters and ministry leaders identify areas of their ministry or in their community where they could use some extra help, they can simply go online and submit their need on the map. The site allows them to be as specific as they want, including details like a summary of the project, how many teams are needed to serve, the duration of the project and more.
 
Then, as other churches throughout North America begin praying and planning for upcoming short-term mission opportunities for their congregations, they can go online and search the site for needs their team might be able to meet. The map is customized by region, with each need represented by a dot on the map. Those searching for opportunities can go online, view the needs available, pray through these opportunities and easily connect with a place to serve.
 
"The map has made connecting churches and volunteers as simple as one click," said Susan Peugh, volunteer opportunities coordinator for NAMB. "We hope that by simplifying the connection process for both churches in need and volunteer teams looking for needs to meet, we'll see more and more connections made and partnerships formed between churches."
 
More than 300 needs already are posted to the map and more are on the way as Southern Baptist state convention leaders, NAMB Send North America city coordinators, church planters and missionaries from across the U.S. and Canada utilize the tool to connect and partner with other Southern Baptist churches and mission teams.
 
"Short-term mission teams encourage and expand the work of church planters and churches in underserved areas of North America," said Jerry Daniel, NAMB's LoveLoud ministry team leader. "Often these trips will be a key factor in developing partnerships and focused prayer for cities and people groups in need. Serving together creates a deeper bond of fellowship and an opportunity to see God's Spirit draw people to faith in Jesus."
 
Lorna Bius, a LoveLoud missionary in NAMB's West Region, already is encouraging church planters and leaders there to use the tool to connect with others through service and prayer.
 
"This is a great tool to serve as a connection point for those who want to 'go,' but don't know where to start," Bius noted. "Churches love to send teams out to serve and see ministry work done in a different setting. This is a great way for them to discover places and people to serve. Dots on a map become real places to pray for and ministries to partner with in the future."
 
Moving into 2014, the map will expand as new needs are posted and churches begin planning their short-term trips for spring and summer breaks. Additionally, NAMB hopes to see the tool utilized as a part of Crossover 2014 in Baltimore prior to the Southern Baptist Convention hosted by the city.
 
For more information or to view the Volunteer Opportunities map, visit namb.net/volunteer-opportunities.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sara Shelton writes for the North American Mission Board.)
12/6/2013 12:23:52 PM by Sara Shelton, North American Mission Board | with 0 comments



Quichua farmer tithes his life to God

December 6 2013 by Will Stuart, International Mission Board

SOUTH ASIA – There was little in life to predict that Cebrián Bolívar* would one day become a missionary in one of South Asia's most populated cities. He grew up on a farm high in South America's Andes Mountains where his parents and siblings still scratch out a living from the soil.
 
But that was before he met Sam Cordell.*
 
Cordell was a Southern Baptist missionary with a plan. In less than a decade he trained a cadre of 200 Quichua Indian believers to plant churches among the scattered mountain villages of their people. And Bolívar was one of the best; he planted 26.
 
When Cordell announced he was leaving South America for Asia, Bolívar was one of several who asked if they could go with him.
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IMB Photo
In South America, Cebrián Bolívar* (right) became one of missionary Sam Cordell’s (left) top church planters. Bolívar started 26 churches in 18 months. Now in South Asia, he is learning to navigate the continent’s crowded slums. *Names changed.

 
You have always told us to reach out beyond ourselves, they said. Cordell agreed. But it won't be easy, he warned.
 
Life is hard in the high Andes. Farmers earn little more than enough to survive. There is not a lot left over to support someone on the mission field. And of his father's 10 children, Bolívar was the one his parents thought most likely to stay home, take over the farm and care for them in their old age.
 
When the idea of Bolívar serving in Asia came up, his parents were against it.
 
One day Bolívar asked his father the following questions: "Father," he said, "if you have 10 sheep, how many belong to the Lord?"
 
"One," said his father.
 
"And 10 chickens?" Bolívar asked.
 
"Again, one," answered his father.
 
"Father, you have 10 children," Bolívar said. "Shouldn't one go to the Lord?"
 
In the end, Cebrián Bolívar's decision to go to South Asia and work with Sam Cordell came down to the matter of a tithe.
 
But the tithe was just the beginning. Cordell told him getting to South Asia wasn't going to be easy. First there was the matter of language. And then there was the matter of support.
 
Bolívar's first language is Quichua; his second is Spanish. It is not the Spanish of the classroom. It is the language of the street. And neither Spanish nor Quichua are of much use in South Asia.
 
In 2008 Bolívar began studying English through an Internet course. And when he arrived in 2011, he began the study of his fourth language: Hindi.
 
He used the years between to garner support he would need by speaking with churches and individuals up and down the Andes, sharing his passion for South Asian peoples and what it would take to get there.
 
Now more than two years into his three-year commitment, 20 Quichua families set aside money from their meager earnings and send the funds needed to support Bolívar. None of them are wealthy. Only two families own a motorized vehicle.
 
Yet they are faithful.
 
And Bolívar, in turn, continues to grow in knowledge of his new land, its languages and customs. He has an affinity for students a bit younger than his 27 years. They are attracted to him and include him in their gatherings and outings. He has even traveled across the continent with a couple of them.
 
This year, Cordell and Bolívar saw the first one among them make a commitment to Christ.
 
Cordell will tell you it's all part of the plan.
 
*Names changed
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Will Stuart writes for the International Mission Board from Richmond, Va. This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention is Dec. 1-8 with the theme of "Totally His heart, hands, voice" from Matthew 22:36-39. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions in tandem with Cooperative Program gifts from Southern Baptist churches support nearly 5,000 international missionaries in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission. Gifts to the Lottie Moon offering are received through local Southern Baptist churches or online at imb.org/offering, where there are resources to promote the offering. This year's goal is $175 million.)
12/6/2013 12:05:45 PM by Will Stuart, International Mission Board | with 0 comments



Former ASU wrestler sets sights on 2016 Summer Olympics

December 6 2013 by Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A

Austin Trotman is the most accomplished wrestler in Appalachian State University (ASU) wrestling history with 129 wins. As a three-time All-American and a four-time NCAA Championship qualifier, Trotman had a memorable performance in taking third in the 2012 NCAA Championships at ASU. He’s now a legitimate threat to represent his country at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In November 2012, he won the NYAC Holiday International Open and was also named “Outstanding Wrestler.”

As a strong representative of Christ, Trotman is using his wrestling platform to speak to young people, especially on behalf of the North Carolina Sold Out School Alcohol Abstinence Education Program. I sat down to talk about his philosophy of wrestling, his chances at the 2016 Summer Olympics and his commitment to spread the gospel.
 
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Contributed photo
Austin Trotman hugs one of his Appalachian State University (ASU) wrestling coaches after a match. Trotman is currently ranked in the top five for wrestlers in his weight class. He is training with the ASU team and at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado to help keep him in good condition to compete for a spot on the 2016 Summer Olympics team.

Q: You are known as a wrestler for having the reputation of outlasting your opponents. What is your mindset when you walk onto the mat to compete?
 
A: You do not compete to lose. A match is seven minutes long, which does not seem like much and some guys view it as a sprint. If you get opponents past three minutes you can break them. There are very few who can actually go the full seven minutes in a match. Conditioning is such a huge part of the sport.
 
Q: You are currently ranked as the number five wrestler in the world and in good position to make the team for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. What has been the process for making the 2016 Team USA Wrestling team?
 
A: After graduating in 2012, I received a call from one of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling coaches about trying out for the 2016 Summer Games. When a wrestler places high in the NCAA Tournaments and wins a lot of matches, his odds of competing for one of the [U.S. Olympic] positions is much higher. I have been training regularly at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado and also with the ASU team. The top 10 guys in their weight class have an opportunity to compete in a handful of elite tournaments, and the top five make the U.S. team. I am currently in the top five in the 185 and a half weight class.
 
Q: You use your wrestling platform to tell others about your faith. Talk about this unique opportunity.
 
A: Every time I get the chance I tell people that I’m a Christian. Wrestling is a missional opportunity. One particularly cool story was when we were in Turkey and staying across the hall from a team with a Muslim background. They didn’t speak English, but for some reason they wanted to come and listen to our Bible study. What a great opportunity!
 
Q: You’re going to be with me in Avery County speaking to students from our Sold Out Alcohol Abstinence School Education Program. Speak about the experiences you’ve had with middle and high school students concerning this program.
 
A: I feel that if I’m going to ask young people to make an alcohol and drug abstinence commitment, then I need to be committed as well. I tell the students that it’s great to be at this level of competition but in order to be here, you have to treat your body right and put good things into it. I believe that being alcohol and drug abstinent is important whether you are or are not competing. It’s critical to success.
 
Q: Austin, I am inspired by your commitment to the Lord and your positive attitude about life! Tell everyone how they can follow you on this journey to the Olympic Games in 2016.
 
A: If someone is interested, they can follow the USA Team at Mat.com. On this site, anyone can keep up with all of the action with team USA. They can also follow me on Twitter: @A-Trotty or search on Facebook for Sold Out. Lastly, they can watch our conversations at www.soldouttv.com.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman’s Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio can be heard in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. It’s all about faith, family and sports. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook page: Roman Gabriel III Fan Page; connect with him on Twitter: romangabriel3rd; email him: soldoutrg3@gmail.com)
12/6/2013 11:50:40 AM by Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A | with 0 comments



Mandela's 'long walk to freedom' ends

December 6 2013 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

PRETORIA, South Africa – Former South African President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela's 'long walk to freedom' has ended. He died today (Dec. 5) at age 95 at home after months of declining health.
 
"All of us in the country must accept that Madiba [as Mandela was affectionately called] is now old," South African President Jacob Zuma had said when Mandela seemed near death this summer. "As he ages, his health will trouble him."
 
Southern Baptists joined diverse leaders worldwide who hailed the civil rights champion for his life's work against apartheid, economic injustice, AIDS and other ills.
 
Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, noted the heroism of the leader who rose from 27 years of incarceration to become the first black South African president as well as a hallmark of freedom and a leader of worldwide acclaim.
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BP photo
Nelson Mandela

 
"Nelson Mandela's heroism will outlast him throughout untold generations. Mandela will be remembered for standing up to a racist regime, for persevering under persecution, and for leading his country toward democracy,” Moore told Baptist Press. “Mandela's move from prison cell to president's office was a living parable of the power of freedom over apartheid. Even those who don't agree with all of Mandela's political or religious views ought to give thanks for the many good things that came from his life and work. As we remember Nelson Mandela, let's pray for a South Africa that experiences the freedom not only of the voting booth but also of widespread gospel reconciliation to God and to one another."
 
Mandela rarely discussed religion outside the arena of religious freedom, but a transcript on NelsonMandela.org quotes his comments on religion in a 2000 Christian Science Monitor interview.
 
"Religion has had a tremendous influence on my own life. You must remember that during our time – right from Grade 1 up to university – our education was provided by religious institutions. I was in [Christian] missionary schools," the transcript records Mandela as saying. "The government [of the day] had no interest whatsoever in our education and, therefore, religion became a force which was responsible for our development.
 
"I appreciate the importance of religion," Mandela said. "You have to have been in a South African jail under apartheid where you could see the cruelty of human beings to each other in its naked form. Again, religious institutions and their leaders gave us hope that one day we would return."
 
Nigeria native Adeniya Ojutiku, a Southern Baptist in the U.S. who fights for Christians and their livelihood in his homeland, described Mandela as "an epitome of forgiveness, kindness and love" who had "a dogged resolve for the pursuit of peace and justice."
 
"His extraordinary life story, witty sense of humor and lack of bitterness toward his former oppressors has ensured global appeal for his type of charismatic leadership," Ojutiku told Baptist Press. "Mandela has no antecedence, parallel or equal in the contemporary history of harmonious race relations.
 
"He rekindled hope in the humaneness and greatness of the black, colored and white races, as he soared above the petty confines of party politics and prejudice," Ojutiku said.
 
Mandela was inaugurated in May 1994 as president of South Africa, the first black and the first leader democratically elected to the post, stepping down after one term as he had vowed. Mandela chronicled his life in his 1994 autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom," published in several languages.
 
He was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918, into the Madiba clan in the small village of Mvezo in Transkei, South Africa. His teacher at the primary school Mandela attended in Qunu named him "Nelson" in accordance with custom to give all school children Christian names. Mandela heard stories of his ancestors' valor during the wars of resistance and dreamed of helping South Africans secure freedom.
 
His comments to the court in 1964 that sentenced him to life in prison for his work to abolish apartheid have become immortalized.
 
"I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities," Mandela told the court. "It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
 
During his incarceration, Mandela developed a lung infection that would recur at times for the remainder of his life.
 
The United Nations on June 10, 2009, adopted Mandela's birthday, July 18, as "Nelson Mandela International Day."
 
Mandela was recognized with more than 1,100 honors and awards, received more than 100 honorary degrees, and had numerous institutions, awards, schools and streets named in his honor, according to NelsonMandela.org.
 
In addition to the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize he shared with former South African President F.W. deKlerk, who had joined hands with Mandela in defeating apartheid, Mandela's honors include Time's Person of the Year, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Sakharov Prize, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights, the UNESCO Peace Prize, the Indira Gandhi Award for International Justice and Harmony and the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.
 
Survivors include his third wife, Graça Machel, whom he married in 1998 on his 80th birthday; his former wife Winnie Mandela, three biological children and three children Machel brought into their union. He was preceded in death by three children and his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, from whom he was divorced in 1958.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' staff writer.)
12/6/2013 9:18:22 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Cullowhee Hispanic church celebrates 12th anniversary

December 5 2013 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

Most churches do not strongly celebrate 12th anniversaries. But Iglesia Bautista El Centro Del Señor held a special service Sunday, Nov. 3, to mark its 12th year as a Spanish-speaking congregation in Cullowhee, N.C.
 
About 200 people gathered, including pastors and members from half a dozen other Hispanic Baptist churches across Western North Carolina.    
 
The service celebrated not only El Centro’s birthday, but also was an unofficial indicator of the growing Baptist presence among Hispanics in Western North Carolina.
 
The U.S. Census Bureau reports Hispanics number more than 800,000 in North Carolina.
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BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Worshippers at Iglesia Bautista El Centro Del Señor participate in a special service Nov. 3 marking the church’s 12th anniversary.

 
Many of those now live in the western part of the state.
 
El Centro Pastor Robert Fernandez has been important in Baptist efforts to reach Hispanics for Christ in the West. He has started two other Hispanic churches in Robbinsville and Canton.
 
He has also taught in the Spanish program of Fruitland Baptist Bible College (formerly Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute) for six years.
 
Recently, he became director of that program, which has satellite centers across the state that offer instruction in Spanish.      
 
Fernandez was born in Cuba but moved with his family when he was young to the area of Tampa, Fla. There he became a Christian and also met his future wife, Wanda.        
 
Having grown up speaking English, Fernandez and his wife raised their two children using English.
 
He used his Spanish mostly to talk to his extended family. They moved to North Carolina in 1989.
 
At first Fernandez served as pastor of an English-speaking church, but as thousands of Hispanics began settling in Western North Carolina, he realized his Spanish was needed and he began working with Spanish speakers.    
 
He found state and regional Baptist leaders who were earnestly seeking to reach the many Hispanics flooding into the area.
 
Mitchell Shields recalled noticing the increasing presence of Hispanic families when he was shopping at Wal-Mart.
 
Shields is the director of missions for the Truett Baptist Association.
 
A partnership to increase outreach to Hispanics developed between Truett, Tuckaseigee, Tennessee River, Graham and Cheoah Baptist associations, Fruitland Baptist Bible College and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
 
Since then more Hispanic churches have started across the area.
 
Felix Villerreal was the only other Hispanic pastor in the area during that time. Villerreal started a Spanish language church in Hamburg and later moved to other locations.
 
More recently he started a new church in Highlands and has continued mission trips to Mexico. In his most recent trip, he said the team saw some 80 people pray to receive Christ as Savior.
 
El Centro was the first Spanish language church Fernandez started in 2001. The church remains relatively small with almost 50 members.
 
He reminded those attending the anniversary service that the church has sent out followers of Christ back to many of the Spanish-speaking countries. William Ortega gave the keynote sermon Sunday afternoon. He is the new Hispanic church planting consultant with the BSC’s church planting team.  
 
José and Mary Alonso from Iglesia Bautista Agua Viva in Hendersonville provided special music, along with singing by music groups from El Centro and from the Emmanuel Group from Mt. Olive.
12/5/2013 3:01:13 PM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 1 comments



Rockingham youth take on ‘least of these’

December 5 2013 by From submitted news

The youth group from Mount Olive Baptist Church in Rockingham has taken serving the “least of these” as a challenge over the past few months.

In July, the group took a mission trip to Jacksonville Beach in Florida. That trip impacted the group in different ways.

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Contributed photo
November was the first time Mount Olive Baptist Church in Rockingham held a “Picnic in the Park.” Through the event homeless people were fed and clothed. The youth were inspired after a mission trip to Jacksonville, Fla.

“God knew what He had planned the whole time for this group,” said C.J. Smith, youth director, who said the youth worked with Light of the World Ministries serving the homeless and less fortunate in Jacksonville.

Shortly after returning from the trip, the local homeless shelter in Rockingham – the Baker House – was destroyed by fire.

“Since that time, this youth group has taken an initiative to be the hands and feet of Jesus for those that are homeless and less fortunate in the area,” Smith said.
 
In November, the group held its first “Picnic in the Park” for homeless.
 
They used the time to hand out jackets, blankets and clothes, as well as feed the people. There was a medical and prayer table set up at the park, and a Bible study was held with those who were interested.
Residents who were staying in the local shelter have been forced to use tents and cardboard boxes in nearby woods.
 
The group is praying for more individuals and churches to step out in faith and minister to these people, including sharing the gospel. Smith shared the story from Matthew 25 where the goats and sheep were commanded the same thing from Jesus. Both groups responded differently to the command.
 
“The sheep helped those in need and were blessed for it,” he said. “Meanwhile, the goats did not listen and faced punishment because of it.”
12/5/2013 2:50:18 PM by From submitted news | with 0 comments



Southeastern received ECFA accreditation as the 1,800th member

December 5 2013 by Ali Dixon, Southeastern News & Information Specialist

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) is thrilled to announce its accreditation from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

SEBTS is the only Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminary that has received ECFA accreditation. SBC entities, including the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board and the Southern Baptist Foundation, also received approval from the ECFA.
 
Accreditation from the ECFA brings a higher level of assurance with donors and the churches of the SBC that SEBTS is working hard to ensure that it is operating as a good steward of their monies.
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ECFA was created 1979 and is an accreditation organization that seeks to assist Christian ministries in validating their use of resources to fulfill the Great Commission.
 
Member organizations accredited from ECFA meet the Seven Standards of Responsible StewardshipTM including transparency and a board of governance. A high standard of accountability is required for members and assures donors of trustworthy and faithful Christian nonprofit organizations.
 
Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS said: “Southeastern is excited to receive accreditation from ECFA, and to celebrate with ECFA as they reach their 1,800th member. We believe financial integrity is one of the foundational items in honoring Christ through the training of the students who are sent to us by churches.
 
“We are grateful for the monies that God has given to us through churches, individuals and tuition from our students. We have a responsibility to them and King Jesus to faithfully steward these resources. ECFA accreditation is another confirmation of the hard work our staff undertakes to assure our seminary's financial integrity,” Akin said.
 
Ryan Hutchinson, Southeastern’s executive vice president for operations, said: “We are thankful for organizations like ECFA that help the general public know that certain organizations they support are applying solid stewardship principles with the funds they are entrusted.
 
“I am thankful for our SEBTS team that has always worked to ensure the financial integrity of the seminary,” Hutchinson said. “I am also thankful that our recent ECFA accreditation now publicly affirms those efforts.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ali Dixon is Southeastern’s News & Information Specialist)
12/5/2013 2:39:32 PM by Ali Dixon, Southeastern News & Information Specialist | with 0 comments



Pastors call 2nd prayer meeting for revival

December 5 2013 by David Roach, Baptist Press

ATLANTA – Building from a prayer gathering of senior pastors this fall, a group of Southern Baptist pastors is inviting pastors, other ministers and ministry students to participate in a two-day prayer meeting in Atlanta Jan. 13-14.
 
Labeled "A Call to Pray for Revival and Awakening," the gathering "is time for us to pray in an extraordinary way, to seek the God of heaven to revive His church and awaken our nation," Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, said in a written statement to Baptist Press.
 
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Floyd, a primary organizer of a 42-member invitation team, announced the gathering on the meeting's website, www.praying-pastors.com. Information about the gathering at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel also is being disseminated via Twitter using the hashtag #prayingpastors. Each member of the invitation team has committed to attend the event in its entirety, Floyd said on the website.
 
"We had a fabulous response to our Dallas prayer gathering," he said. "We did not have any plans to do another gathering but wanted only what God wanted. There was a real desire to do something again [and] many who were not able to attend Dallas.
 
"Additionally, there was a cry for it to be expanded beyond senior pastors," Floyd continued. "After listening, prayer and discussion, we determined God wanted us to open it up to all Southern Baptist senior pastors and God-called ministers. Therefore, we worked for a month to define the time and place."
 
Nearly 200 senior pastors from 27 states attended the gathering Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Southlake. A video at praying-pastors.com plays anonymously some of the prayers offered by attendees. Among them:
 
  • "God, how dare we preach words that aren't anointed by the Spirit." 
  • "I don't want to do this if You don't come down in power. Lord, I don't want to do ministry without the filling of the Spirit. Lord, it's one thing to read about it. We want to experience revival."
  • "We're going to proclaim ... the gospel. Not our thinking, not our thoughts, not our agendas. But we will say what You ask us to say. We'll go places You ask us to go. We'll do the things that You ask us to do."
  • "Help us, God, understand that since You called us, You qualified us, God. Since You called us, God, You equipped us, O God. Since You called us, You made our hearts prepared. Let us remind ourselves now, God, You're still going to do great things in this land." 
  • "God, I'm not going to let go of You until You burst from the heavens and come down."
 
Both the Dallas gathering in the fall and the Atlanta gathering to come are "real prayer meetings," Floyd said. "This is not a place to come and go or come and be seen. We begin together and we end together. Built upon the Word of God, we move into prayer moments personally, together, for each other, our churches and our nation."
 
There is no cost to attend the prayer gathering, but all attendees must register through the website and are responsible for their own travel and hotel costs. Hotel reservations must be made by Dec. 22 to secure a group rate of $119 per night.
 
The meeting will involve ministers who "are desperate for a move of God in our churches and in our nation," Floyd said. "They realize to penetrate their towns, cities and our nation, God will have to empower a mighty movement of revival in the church so we can see spiritual awakening in our nation."
 
Joining Floyd on the invitation team are, in alphabetical order, pastors Mel Blackaby, First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ga.; Michael Catt, Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.; Frank Cox, North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga.; Steve Dighton, Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan.; Ernest Easley, Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.; Bill Elliff, The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Ark.; Grant Ethridge, Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Va.; Bruce Frank, Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, N.C.; Steve Gaines, Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.; Robby Gallaty, Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn.;
 
Jack Graham, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas; Tommy Green, First Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla.; Mike Hamlet, First North Church in Spartanburg, S.C.; Eric Hankins, First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss.; Gary Hollingsworth, Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark.; Johnny Hunt, First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.;
 
Brad Jurkovich, First Baptist Church in Bossier City, La.; Paul Kim, Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass.; David Landrith, Longhollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.; Drew Landry, Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va.; Richard Mark Lee, First Baptist Church in McKinney, Texas; Ed Litton, First Baptist Church in North Mobile, Ala.; Fred Lowery, First Baptist Church in Bossier City, La.; Bob McCartney, First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas; Byron McWilliams, First Baptist Church in Odessa Texas; Kevin Miller, Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, Ga.;
 
Vance Pittman, Hope Church in Las Vegas; Clint Pressley, Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte; Ike Reighard, Piedmont Church in Marietta, Ga.; Willy Rice, Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla.; Jimmy Scroggins, First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Bryan Smith, First Baptist Church in Roanoke, Va.; Rhys Stenner, New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga.; Ted Traylor, Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.; Simon Tsoi, International Baptist Church in Mesa, Ariz.; A.B. Vines, New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif.; Rick White, The People's Church in Franklin, Tenn.; Ken Whitten, Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla.; K. Marshall Williams, Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia; Don Wilton, First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C.; and Bryant Wright, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE– David Roach is a writer in Shelbyville, Ky.)
12/5/2013 2:19:33 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Sally Lloyd-Jones, the Christian author you might know

December 4 2013 by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

NEW YORK – How do you get kids to read one of the world’s oldest books? Ask Sally Lloyd-Jones, whose “The Jesus Storybook Bible” recently passed the critical mark of 1 million copies sold.
 
The British ex-pat and now proud New Yorker has never married or had children of her own, yet aims to retell the Bible to something that comes alive for young people.
 
One of her editors told her once that there are two types of children’s books authors: the ones who are around children, and the ones who are children inside.
 
“It kind of freed me, because I think I know I’m that second one,” she said. “And I can still write from that place, because my childhood is so vivid.”
 
Her “The Jesus Storybook Bible” was not an overnight best-seller, nor was her path to best-selling children’s author a direct one.
 
“As a 6-year-old, I dreaded going to church,” she said. “I made a little promise inside my head that when I grew up I was never going to church again.”
 
Lloyd-Jones says that the Church of England Sunday school she attended was focused on keeping rules.
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Photo courtesy John Starke
Owen, 5, (left to right) Corinne, 8, and Noelle Starke, 4 read from the Jesus Storybook Bible.

 
“I didn’t get any sense of wonder, or adventure, or any story,” she said. “That’s why whenever I was working on a story and there would be a temptation to do a moral lesson, I’d have such a huge reaction.”
 
“The Jesus Storybook Bible,” originally released by Zondervan in 2007, was an attempt to get through barriers children may have. “The challenge with that book was ‘How do I tell this story so a child would hear it for the first time in a fresh way?’” she said. “I wanted to explain it in a way that wouldn’t rely on jargon.”
 
Christians with a literary bent sometimes have difficulty in the publishing world, said Eric Metaxas, author of the biography “Bonhoeffer” and several children’s books who has known Lloyd-Jones since she moved to the U.S. Children’s books, he said, are in many ways harder to write than books for adults.
 
“Kids can’t be fooled,” Metaxas said. “There has to be a level of honesty and authenticity that isn’t easily achieved.”
 
The one biblical story she wanted to include but didn’t was the wedding at Cana when Jesus turns water into wine, considered his first miracle. But Zondervan was worried about a story featuring wine. “I just love that the first thing that Jesus does is a party!” said Lloyd-Jones.
 
A petite, blonde-haired woman who jogs and photographs for fun at 53 years old, Lloyd-Jones’ energy is contagious. Born in Uganda, Jones spent her first years in Africa.
 
“You would think my parents might be missionaries. Everyone thinks that’s a much better story,” she said. “My dad was working for Shell.”
 
She said she was 4 when she became a Christian.
 
“I was tricycling around with a friend, and my father said, ‘Sally, darling, would you like to invite Jesus into your heart?’ and I said ‘No, thank you,’” she said while laughing.
 
“Later I said yes.”
 
While her parents were still in Africa, Lloyd-Jones attended boarding school in England, where a teacher first told her she could one day become a writer.
 
While she studied art history at Sussex University, she spent a year in Paris, where she grew in the Christian faith of her youth.
 
“I’d always known, ever since I was a small child, that Jesus was my friend, but I think in some ways I was trying to be on the fence,” she said. “I stopped trying to keep my options open.”
 
Her first job was at Oxford University Press as an editorial assistant in the textbooks division.
 
“Down the corridor from me there seemed to be a lot of laughing, and it was the children’s picture book department. I remember thinking ‘Oh, I’ll never be able to write them, but at least I could work on them.’”
 
In 1989, she took a job in Connecticut where she eventually became the publisher of the Christian children’s book list that was later purchased by Reader’s Digest. But first she had to mull the offer to move to the U.S.
 
“I was thinking that if I don’t move, the story will be so awful. It will be like, ‘Once upon a time, I nearly came to America. The end.’ That’s such an awful story!” she said. “So I thought, ‘At least find out if it’s not good.’”
 
She moved to New York City in 1998, and began to write full time after she later lost her job as part of a major downsizing. She became a U.S. citizen after 9/11.
 
“People often ask me, ‘What’s your theological training?’” said Lloyd-Jones, who reads works by John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones and attends Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. “I’ve been at ‘Tim Keller university.’ I had been hearing how Jesus is in every story for several years.”
 
Keller wrote the forward to her 2012 book, “Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing,” and his wife, Kathy Keller, said she gives “The Jesus Storybook Bible” to everyone from university presidents to car salesmen because anyone can understand it.
 
“Her book isn’t a bunch of collected Aesop’s fables,” Kathy Keller said. “There is an actual narrative to redemption. The stories are not meant to say ‘Live like this, be like this.’ They’re telling us about Jesus. ”
 
Because of her last name, many fans mistakenly believe she is related to Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a Welsh minister influential in the British evangelical movement who’s admired by many American evangelicals.
 
No, she gently clarifies with anyone who asks, she is not related to him.
 
“You read blogs about yourself and you come across these things that are very authoritative,” she said. “I’m so easily convinced; I read this one blog that was so official sounding, and it said that I was his wife.”
 
Martyn Lloyd-Jones died in 1981.
 
John Starke, pastor of New York’s All Souls Church, said he uses her children’s Bible with his four children because it gives a good overview of the Bible with quality writing and illustrations.
 
“I think the main difference is that the book is both biblical and imaginative. Children’s books tend to err on one of those extremes,” he said. “But Sally’s book is strong on both ends.”
 
Her breakthrough as an author actually came through a nonreligious book called “How to Be a Baby . . . by Me, the Big Sister,” a New York Times best-seller sold by Random House that won praise in The New York Times. But she doesn’t make a distinction between which books are religious or nonreligious.
 
“I think the danger with Christian publishing is (the attitude), ‘If it’s got a Bible verse in it then it’s OK,’ even if it’s got really bad writing and bad art,” she said. “I suppose my vision has always been that it’s got to be excellent.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sarah Pulliam Bailey joined RNS as a national correspondent in 2013. She has previously served as managing editor of Odyssey Networks and online editor for Christianity Today.)
12/4/2013 1:49:31 PM by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



CP at 94.15% of budget goal

December 4 2013 by Baptist Press Staff

NASHVILLE – Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are $30,050,253.40 or 94.15 percent of the year-to-date SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget goal, and are 1.75 percent below contributions received during the same time frame last year.
 
The year-to-date total represents money received by the Executive Committee by the close of the last business day of November and includes receipts from state conventions, churches and individuals for distribution, according to the 2013-14 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
 
The $30,050,253.40 received by the Executive Committee from the start of the fiscal year, Oct. 1, through Nov. 30 for distribution through the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget represents 94.15 percent of the $31,916,666.67 year-to-date budgeted amount to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America. The total is $535,768.28, or 1.75 percent less than the $30,586,021.68 received through the end of November 2013.
 
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Designated giving of $36,957,899.34 for the same year-to-date period is 1.05 percent, or $393,455.27, below the $37,351,354.61 received at this point last year. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities. Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief (formerly the World Hunger Fund) and other special gifts.
 
November's CP allocation receipts for SBC work totaled $16,438,819.26. Designated gifts received last month amounted to $3,703,412.70.
 
The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists' channel of giving through which a local church is able to contribute to the ministries of its state convention and to the missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention with a single contribution to its state convention.
 
State conventions retain a portion of church contributions to the Cooperative Program to support work in their respective states and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. The percentage of distribution from the states is at the discretion of the messengers of each state convention through the adoption of the state convention's annual budget.
 
The SBC allocation budget is distributed as follows: 50.4 percent to international missions through IMB, 22.79 percent to North American missions through NAMB, 22.16 percent to theological education, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
 
Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the number of Sundays in a given month, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions, the percentage of CP contributions forwarded to the SBC by the state conventions after shared ministry expenses are deducted and the timing of when the state conventions forward the national portion of Cooperative Program contributions to the Executive Committee.
 
CP allocation budget receipts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state convention offices, to the state Baptist papers and are posted online at www.cpmissions.net/CPReports.
12/4/2013 1:35:33 PM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



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